“Heartfelt and Intuitive”: Lianna Patch on Comedic Resonance
June 15, 2016 | Dan Trefethen
Everybody loves to laugh, right?
We’ve all had that movie, a TV show, a book, or an article that could always make us double over in laughter – for me, that’s The Office. Name any episode from any of the nine seasons that show aired, and I can vividly recall the jokes the characters made and how the episode made me feel.
Comedy is powerful. It’s a tool that, when used effectively, can make all the difference in your content marketing campaign.
Lianna Patch is the owner of Punchline Conversion Copywriting, where she, according to her website, specializes in both SaaS and sass. She takes a business’ drab, boring, faceless online presence and produces unforgettable copy using well-placed humor to grab visitors right from the start.
We were fortunate enough to sit down with Lianna recently to discuss her approach on crafting content that strikes a chord with audiences, and takes B2B content to more playful level.
Read on to learn about the value that Lianna finds in resonating comedy, why she thinks some marketers come off as inauthentic, and more.
What comes to mind for you when you think of resonance?
Every time I read that word, I actually think very viscerally. I think of my heart being held or grabbed by something. It’s like a center-body feeling when something resonates. And it sticks with you, the idea of stickiness plays in there. If it’s something you’ve read, you think about it for the rest of the day. Maybe you share it with a couple people in particular, because you know it’s going to resonate with them, too.
Are there words that you would consider synonymous with resonance, or the idea of resonating?
I was thinking about that, and I came up with “heartfelt” and “intuitive” – and then, more on the action-oriented side of things, to be “struck” by something, to be “gripped.” I was thinking of it musically, like tones resonating – like, a bell rings, and we say, “this rings true to me, this resonates with me.” There’s like a whole language around resonance.
Do you think that there’s anything that marketers do specifically that prevents a piece of content they might be working on from being authentically resonant?
You’re not going to resonate unless you know your audience really well, so if you don’t know your audience, you need to do your research. I think the other thing is just the time crunch. Because you want to get something out – you just write it, and you don’t think about whether it’s the right way to say it, and then you’re disappointed when it doesn’t land. Also, any potential resonance you might have, you could kill that with stock photos. It’s not just the writing on the page, but the design & layout.
If you get to a page that looks untrustworthy, like it was built in 1995 – you automatically don’t want to identify with that page because you feel more modern. You feel like you’re looking for something very reputable. Layout and design, in that way, can kill any potential impact in your copy.
Is it artisanal content quality? That you want to feel like it was hand-crafted, or that it was hard, or something?
I haven’t heard that before. I like that, “Artisanal Content.” Organically Raised in Brooklyn.
Do you bring humor into your client work? Or is that mostly something that you keep for when you write from your own persona?
That’s my whole goal now at Punchline Conversion Copy. It’s to work with clients who really want a weird, funny voice – who are okay with getting a little out there. I really want to test a version of a page that was written straight, and a version of that page with a few jokes in it. I’m super interested in that.
Because when I read something, like an e-mail or a landing page or a website, and it’s funny, I automatically like it more. And I’m inclined to keep reading. I think there’s something to be explored there.
So would you try to identify the audience’s sense of humor during the research process? How would you do that?
Yes. That’s something that I’m working on, actually. So I have a few questions that I usually ask, like, “What is your sense of humor? How would you describe it? Can you send me a couple of things that you find super-funny, and explain why?”
Do you think that something that resonates with you is inherently more valuable to you? Do you equate value with resonance?
Sometimes. I was looking at that question before, value versus resonance – and to me, value vs. resonance is like head vs. heart. I can read something and say “Oh, I need to re-read this,” because I need to know this information and work it into my writing or whatever I’m doing – and I can read something and be like “Ooh, this is great. This feels great. Let me save it for later, or share it.”
So I think you can have both value and resonance in a piece, but you can also have just value or just resonance.
There was one super-funny thing you wrote a while back that I liked – “How to Fight Content Fatigue.” That really resonated with me. Have you seen it resonate with other people, and what did that resonance look like?
That mostly just came in the form of either comments or tweets that were like, “This is funny! Read it!” My soul just hungers for those. In terms of the process of creating it – I think I was just trying to get into the mindset of someone who was at that point, feeling like they were content-fatigued. Since it was such a long piece – it was actually one of the longest pieces I’ve ever written, in marketing at least – I was going through it like I would go through a stand-up set.
What’s the cadence? Where is there a joke, and then a little bit of information, and then where do I need another joke, to make it sort of feel like this ride that people are interested in and entertained by, instead of “here’s a bunch of jokes, and now a bunch of data.” I look at it from that holistic view – I don’t think about how many times do I want people to laugh, but where? Where is an opportunity for a laugh, and what will that do? Why do I want them to laugh right here?
How did you answer that question, “why do I want them to laugh right here?” What were you trying to do?
With this topic, I wanted them to laugh at the absurdity. So the humor that I was putting in was more on the absurd side. And that’s also just kind of how I roll. That’s just what I find funny. And, in terms of where I want them to laugh, it’s like, “Oh, it’s been a while. I’ve been talking about HubSpot’s study for a paragraph or two. Maybe it’s time to lighten it up a little bit.” Am I making sense at all?
Have Fun With It
Humorous content can win your audience over and garner tons of new leads for your company, but don’t just make jokes for jokes’ sake. Be genuine, be creative, be thoughtful, and show restraint when necessary.
Most importantly, have fun with it. Let the jokes fly!